Across Australia, NAIDOC Week events are being held to help celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Held between July 4-11, it is a week that is celebrated not only by Indigenous communities, but by people from all walks of life, including within Queensland Rugby League.
This year, the theme is ‘Heal Country’, which amongst many things means embracing First Nation's cultural knowledge and understanding of country as part of Australia's national heritage and that the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders are respected equally to the cultures and values of all Australians.
While there are a number of activities and celebrations being held this week in various QRL regions, for QRL Indigenous Advisory Committee co-chair Eddie Monaei, the work being done by the organisation outside of special weeks such as NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week make him proud.
Match highlights: Frank Fisher Cup
“First things first, the QRL currently have in place a Reconciliation Action Plan and … it sets the strategic direction of the QRL in terms of what reconciliation means to us; so that means as an organisation being visible, recognising and acknowledging First Nations people of this country in our business operation and also being aware that our game is being played on traditional country,” Monaei said.
“We are in the process of working with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to highlight who they are, advocating that this is their country first and we have been given that opportunity to play on country.
Maroons honour 'our shared histories, cultures, and achievements'
“The inclusion of Indigenous designs to the Queensland Maroons training attire is also part of that reconciliation journey, which means that our players that play at that elite level are now feeling that their culture and identity is being inclusive of our game and us as an organisation are accepting that this is part and parcel of our history, and of our makeup moving forward.
“We are working more inclusively, and more importantly, taking a holistic perspective of where culture can fit into the QRL moving forward.
“It’s every day.”
Already, there have been some small, but important things incorporated into the day-to-day operations for all employees within the QRL.
“We now see part and parcel of our business that an Acknowledgement of Country is done first and foremost before we conduct business, which is incredible,” Monaei said.
“We are seeing that the acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is now part of our email signature, so it is not only being visibly, it is also being practiced and I think that’s crucial in terms of what we want to right up for this year is that not only are we talking the talk, we are also walking the work in terms of putting it into practice, implementing into our business operations and our people are being advocates and champions of reconciliation.
“I am extremely pleased to see that we have progressed as an organisation to embrace culture into our game, but more so into our business practice.
“[On the field] we have also seen more and more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people transition from grassroots football … through to the elite level that have had strong foundation growth from the things we have put in place around instilling culture in our game and I think that’s quite evident.”
There are a number of activities taking place across Queensland Rugby League this week to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Here’s a snapshot:
- QRL North are hosting a community luncheon on to celebrate NAIDOC Week and acknowledge the significant contribution that First Nations people have had within the rugby league community. A barbecue lunch is provided, while guests are also invited to bring a traditional dish share.
- A QRL delegation is attending a special day at Woorabinda, a Central Queensland town two hours south west of Rockhampton situated on the traditional lands of the Wadja Wadja / Yungulu Aboriginal people. The trip aims to encourage dialogue and also discuss achieving positive health and wellbeing outcomes for the residents of Woorabinda.
- In Townsville, QRL employees who work at Sports House are doing their own research projects to share with others, highlighting significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and important dates to put up at the entry to the venue.